The women's volleyball program has hired Erica Lear as an assistant coach and promoted James Onikeku to associate head coach.
Jeff Brightwell sits down with Memphis Volleyball Assistant Coach James Onikeku to talk about the Memphis Invitational Tournament and the upcoming road trip to face Evansville, Valparaiso, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville this weekend.
Watch highlights of the Tiger volleyball team's annual Blue & Gray preseason scrimmage and hear from head coach April Jauregui as she talks about her outlook on the upcoming season.
College volleyball veteran James "J.O." Onikeku was added to the Tiger volleyball staff in February 2011.
Onikeku, who has over 20 years of collegiate experience as a volleyball assistant and head coach, joins the Tiger staff after a nine-year coaching stint at UT-Chattanooga - his second at the institution. He was elevated to associate head coach prior to the 2005 campaign by former head coach Lisa Rhodes. He served as the Lady Mocs' primary recruiter and had practice, on-court and scouting responsibilities.
"J.O. is an exceptional person and is well regarded in this profession for his character and work ethic," said Jauregui. "I have known James since I started out in this profession, and I have always admired his ability to connect with people. I am very comfortable with him and trust him completely, and that was a big factor in choosing J.O. to become a part of the Tiger family."
While at UTC, Onikeku worked with libero Lara Newberry, who was a two-time National Libero of the Year by Collegiate Volleyball Update from 2007-08 and holds the NCAA single-season and career dig records. He also saw sophomore libero Paula Passmore named the SoCon Libero of the Year following the 2010 campaign. From 2005-10, a Chattanooga libero has paced the Southern Conference in digs per set due to the stellar defense by Newberry and Passmore.
Onikeku began his coaching career at Tennessee Temple University, where he was an assistant from 1989-94. In 1994, the Lagos, Nigeria, native began his first stint at UTC, serving as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator until 1999. UTC won two Southern Conference regular-season championships (1997-98), three tournament titles (1996-98) and made two NCAA Tournament appearances and an NCAA Play-In Match (1996-98) during his tenure.
In between his two stints with the Mocs, Onikeku was the head coach at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La., from 1999-2002. The Demons won 14 games during the 1999 campaign, which was the most wins in seven seasons for the program. During his three campaigns as head coach, he had the best two-year win total of any Northwestern State volleyball coach and finished with a three-year record of 31-59.
An active member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), Onikeku received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Tennessee Temple in 1990 and earned a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from UTC in 1998.
The son of missionaries Joseph and Grace Onikeku, who moved to America from Nigeria in 1985, J.O. lettered four seasons in soccer and also played on the men's volleyball club team at Tennessee Temple.
Onikeku married the former Katie Perkins in the summer of 2007. The couple has one daughter, Elizabeth Grace.